By Nathan Mayberg
WURTSBORO November 04, 2005 Carl Bonitz, the confident Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican Supervisor of the Town of Mamakating Charles Penna, will square off November 8 in an election featuring one of the countys most dynamic towns.
Both men are military veterans. And both candidates were born and raised outside the town. They both moved to the township at a nearly identical time as well approximately 30 years ago.
Bonitz hails from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Upon graduating from high school, he entered the United States Navy, where he stayed for four years.
He moved to the town after he left the Navy and worked for the Orange County Telephone Company. The business would morph into GTE and Verizon over the years, and Bonitz stuck with them. He retired from the company about ten years ago. Over seven of his years there were spent in management.
He left after 20 years, when he was offered a good insurance policy, which they dont have anymore, he said. Since then, he has worked for several other companies, including running a ten million dollar business in Elmsford.
He and his wife Bette have two children and six grandchildren. Bette is a librarian in Middletown. Their son is a teacher in Ellenville, while their other son works in telecommunications in Montgomery.
Along with the Democratic ticket, he is running under the Growth That Nurtures Party. He is opposed to the proposed mushroom factory, to casinos in Mamakating, and believes in preserving the airport although he is not sure about eminent domain.
On the Yukiguni Maitake mushroom plant, Bonitz said, Nobody can convince me that it is not a health risk. Im really concerned about what comes out of the plant. . . . It bothers me that the owners wont change the style of the building to suit the town [code]. He noted that the towns zoning has a height limit of 45 feet, while the mushroom plant would rise over 80.
Bonitz believes public opinion is with him. Out of about 2,000 residents he says hes spoken with, Ive only met a handful of people for the mushroom plant.
Why is it being pushed through? he asked. If the people do not want something, why are we trying to find ways to allow it?
The challenger is concerned about the effect the high amount of water used by the factory would have on neighboring wells in a dry season. Some residents of Summitville have complained about impacts to their wells allegedly as a result of Kohls a large distribution center off Route 209. Bonitz said he is afraid that wells could go dry, causing homeowners to dig deeper wells at their own expense.
The Yukiguni Maitake Manufacturing Corporation of America has stated that their plant would pump out a maximum of 425,000 gallons per day during the hottest periods of the year.
The two candidates share the same opinion on the airport. Both believe it should be preserved. Bonitz supports the efforts of Penna to work with Lamm on a co-venture with the town.
However, he is against Lamms plans for mining. In fact, he is against all mining in the town.
When I was on the planning board in the 80s, there was no mining.
But those arent the main issues for this candidate. Bonitz is focused on senior housing, the septic problem in Wurtsboro, flooding in Westbrookville and activities for the youth of Wurtsboro.
There is nothing for the kids in Wurtsboro. The kids in Wurtsboro are becoming an issue.
Both he and Penna have stated their goal is to provide some activities for children in the Village of Wurtsboro, in addition to the work being done in Bloomingburg. Bonitz said the town owns some property in the village that it could use to build a youth park.
The New York State Board of Health should be brought in to review the septic systems in Wurtsboro Hills, said Bonitz. He said many of the septic tanks of individual homeowners have broken down and are leaking sewage into local wells. That problem led to a moratorium on any further building in the hamlet. Bonitz said the matter is serious and should become a priority. He pledged to personally contact the Department of Health to investigate the issue.
Just like the airport, Bonitz and Penna agree on the way to handle the flooding in Westbrookville. He said the Army Corps of Engineers can fix the problem, but the financing is an issue. He said the right contacts need to be made to secure funding for the work.
He supports a moratorium on home construction but said such a ban would be unnecessary if the town followed its own master plan. Like Penna, he said commercial development is something the town needs. Bonitz also is in favor of a steep slope law which will restrict the grade of buildable lots to a maximum of 25 percent.
The office of Bonitz would be more open, he said.
You have to listen to everybody. I listen to everybody based on my experience. . . . Im not afraid to talk to anybody.
Bonitz said he was first advised to get into politics by his late friend Gordon MacKinnon, a former Sullivan County legislator and figurehead in the town and county Democratic Party. Although Bonitz spent one year on the planning board during the 1980s, he never had the time for it.
Most recently, he said he was asked by Sullivan County Legislator Kathleen LaBuda to run against Penna.
Its time to give back a little, he said.